PARIS: French fashion brands and lifestyle startups are keen on tapping into the $12 billion Gulf market with a young and digital-savvy population, according to speakers at a panel discussion.
The panel, organized as part of the Vision Golfe event in Paris on Wednesday, focused on ways to further promote French lifestyle products, cosmetics, and fashion brands in the Gulf Cooperation Council region. Panelists were of the view that the French products were already popular among the Gulf residents but more steps could be taken to take the popularity to a new level with a focus on the region’s youth and their expectations.
Moderated by Aby Sam Thomas, editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur Middle East magazine, the panel was attended by top executives of luxury brands and marketing companies. It was organized by Business France at the Ministry of Economy, Finance, and Industrial and Digital Sovereignty.
“The Gulf region market is vast and diverse. It represents $12 billion,” said Geoffroy Bunetel, chief of staff to the president of Chalhoub Group.
He said his company is a pioneer in luxury products in the region. Bunetel said the Gulf markets “are characterized by common factors” and one of the key factors the French companies should keep in mind is a young and digital-savvy youth that heavily consumes social media.
In response to a question by the moderator, all speakers agreed that French brands are equally popular among consumers in Jeddah, Dubai, or Doha.
“In Dubai, French products are highly sought after and very successful,” said Noor Al-Tamimi, board member of the Abu Dhabi Businesswomen Council.
Al-Tamimi said consumers in the Gulf countries have a “real appetite for French luxury products.”
She explained that this preference for French luxury and excellence extends to the fashion sector as well as French haute couture and design. “French brands are perceived as products of very good quality with high prices,” Al-Tamimi added.
When asked about the evolving purchasing habits of consumers in the GCC countries, the participants pointed out that French products are generally purchased from luxury boutiques in major cities like Jeddah, Dubai, or Doha, as well as from large shopping malls. “In Saudi Arabia, 60 percent of the consumers make their purchases in shopping malls,” stated Meshaal bin Omairh, CEO of Abdullah Al Othaim Investment Co.
He said 25 percent of the purchases consist of fashion products.
Bunetel drew attention to the development of a middle class in the Gulf countries, suggesting that it represents a market niche that French companies in the region could explore and develop.